Blessed are You Hashem, King of the Universe, מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים, who sets captives free.
I utter the words of this blessing each day without paying much attention to what they actually mean. When I opened my siddur this morning, though, these words came alive in a way they never have before.
Three months ago, the headlines blared “An Orthodox Woman’s 3-Year Divorce Fight” and “Divorce in the Orthodox Jewish Community Can Be Brutal, Degrading and Endless.” These articles detailed Gital Dodelson’s turbulent journey; from her rocky relationship to her subsequent struggles as an agunah. Gital first requested a get from her husband, Avraham Meir Weiss, in March 2010. He refused to grant her one from that day onward. Gital’s case rapidly became the hot topic and she gained widespread support; the Facebook group “Free Gital: Tell Avrohom Meir Weiss to Give His Wife a Get” has nearly 14,000 members.
Yesterday, Gital’s journey took a turn in the right direction. The headlines read “Gital Dodelson…Obtains Get.” The community pressure finally caused her ex-husband to bend and set her free. Baruch matir assurim! After four painful years of being trapped in her present, Gital can finally move on with her life and get started on creating her own bright future.
Gital was quoted in the New York Post article as saying “The lesson I’ve learned from this whole thing is not to turn people away when they need help, regardless of what kind of situation they’re in.” Upon her release, her publicist stated “The family wants to remain as agunah advocates…It doesn’t end with Gital’s get.”
If Gital and her family, who firsthand experienced the pain of being an agunah, can play an active role in this crisis, how much more so can we do something about it. Promote the signing of Halachic prenup. Raise awareness about the abusive nature of get refusal. Attend a rally against a recalcitrant husband. The freeing of agunot is dependent on the active support from people like you.
May the bracha of matir assurim soon ring true for all Agunot. May we see these words in a new light each morning and be stirred to take a proactive role in unbinding the chains of the women who still need freeing.
For more info on agunot and about how you can do something to help, visit: http://www.getora.org/.